How to Gather Qualitative Research Insights Using a Community Platform

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Looking to gather valuable qualitative research insights for your business? Find out what an Insights community can provide by follow these tips and tricks.

Decision making is difficult on the best of days, but how risky is it when those decisions can have a negative impact on the long-term success of your business? The very idea is overwhelming, right? Qualitative research insights can clear away much of the uncertainty that is a natural companion to making lofty decisions. Whether your business is a small operation or a large organization, detailed and concise feedback is essential.

If decisions about everything from marketing to products feel like too much to handle, you need to reconsider your current research methods. Review how you collect data, where it’s coming from, and what information you’re receiving. You might be surprised to learn that what you thought was working, is what’s holding you back from reaching your organization’s full potential.

Gathering Qualitative Data Points from your Community Platform

It may be quite some time since you first decided on which data points to collect. Based on your current customer service are those points still correct? Could other data points prove more useful in your decision-making process? If you want to truly understand the underlying motivations and opinions of your customer or user base, you’ll need to be certain that you’re looking for the right information.

In most cases, you’ll find that your already-established community platform can not only provide that information but that they’ll be more than happy to do so. Users are typically already active consumers or at least dedicated to your organization, and the opportunity to play an active role in its development is exciting. Not sure if your users will jump at the chance to play consultant? A community manager can guide hesitant participants through the initial process.

As a content curator and connector, he or she can tailor the focus of relevant discussions to give some users the gentle nudge they need. Community managers can also reach out directly to users or vice versa and put any concerns directly to rest.

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Put your Community Platform to Work

Using community platform modules (or application widgets) is one of the easiest ways to turn user engagement into qualitative research insights. Chances are you’re already using at least one module on your platform – your discussion forum!

1. Forum and Discussion board

Forum discussions give users the ability to create posts, reply to one another, and engage in meaningful conversations. Most discussion board modules include the ability to create polls, post pictures, and share videos. The discussion board might be the groundwork of your community platform. But if it’s all that you’re using then you’re missing out on a wide range of benefits.

2. The Challenge module

The Challenge module is a great accompaniment for your discussion board module and an excellent tool for gathering ideas to improve current services or products. This module relies on crowdsourcing, which involves many different people coming together with a common goal in mind. It allows you to create contests and competitions to ideate and co-create with your community. Users might not agree on the best way to reach the end goal, but that goal (improving your product) is still the same.

Gathering multiple inputs and perspectives is certainly a valuable exercise, right? You can use the built-in ranking functionality to see which ideas are the most popular. The module also encourages participants to engage in ongoing brainstorming sessions. So ideas that were popular at the onset might soon drop to the bottom of the list! You can invite all your community platform users to take part in the Challenge module or limit to a select group.

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The forum module can replace the need for traditional focus groups. Instead of gathering a handful of people to the same physical location and limiting discussions to an hour or so, you can now gather ongoing feedback on a global scale. Rather than inviting anyone and everyone to participate in your feedback forum, limit the guest list while still ensuring that you have a broad range of customers represented.

Online forums often achieve more honest feedback due to the perceived anonymity of the internet. Members are not only more likely to reveal valuable insights regarding services and products but will also engage in meaningful discussions with fellow members. This doesn’t have to be all back-and-forth typed replies, either. The drawing tool makes it easy to upload pictures, and members can tag the items they feel drawn toward.

3. The Journal

The most successful community platforms understand one very important thing – that users like to feel understood. The Journal tool gives you the ability to not only understand where your community is coming from. It also helps with turning that understanding into valuable research insights. Brainstorming and crowdsourcing ideas are great, but sometimes personalized feedback is essential.

The Journal provides a private environment in which users can do just that. Members can privately reflect on their experience with your product, giving an unadulterated view of how real consumers are putting your products to use. The Journal isn’t limited to text, either! Users can upload pictures and videos of your product in action. What insights could be more valuable than seeing how consumers use your products?

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For quick and instant feedback, you can’t overlook the Questionnaire module. Although simple in nature, it can provide a more quantitative look into your customer base. This module is also highly customizable. You can create simple “yes or no” questionnaires. Give users a range of answers to choose from, or even give them the ability to answer openly.

Qualitative Research Insights Support Quantitative Data

Quantitative data deals with figures and numbers, such as the number of users who like a product or their respective ages. It can’t tell you why that age group feels drawn towards a product or why another consumer group prefers a different product or advertising campaign. Qualitative data insights give you the “why” of quantitative data. This information can drive your organization’s product and service development forward.